By now, everyone has already seen the documentary My Octopus Teacher or been told they have to. It’s an excellent show and will no doubt result in a tragedy of captive octopuses.
There’s something about the deliberation and languid grace of a resting octopus that is irresistible to humans, and the eightness of their affectionate arms seals the deal. Plus, these are not the golden retrievers of the sea. You have to earn their consideration.
Of course, there’s no telling but what many of us in your damper climates already harbor an octopus and don’t even know it. They are masters of camouflage, and everyone has a crevice or two. This is why we wear swimming trunks.
Octopuses in the proper mood are particularly cuddly because they are almost entirely made of fingers and pudding. There are only a few types of octopus that have any crunchy bits.
This is one thing that distinguishes them from their fellow mollusks, the squids. Squids have a rigid internal portion called a “pen.” The pen is there to stiffen the squid. Speaking of that, male squids do have one arm with a copulatory pad on the end of it. According to the literature, it is one of his left arms, although it seems to me that all depends on where you start counting. With the copulatory pad, he can directly reach a female squid in her pertinent privates or, alternatively, wrench off the arm altogether and present it to her. Gallantry is not dead among the squids.
There is a rarely-seen squid that is nevertheless known to be very common, because its pen, minus its original squid, washes up on shorelines all over the world. This is the Ram’s-Horn Squid. Its pen is shaped like a curled ram’s horn; it’s plumb adorable. From time to time people have netted this squid alive but up until recently no one has seen it in its normal environment, which is quite deep in the ocean. As a result, not all that much is known about the critter, the only living member of the Spirula genus, or the Spirula family, or, in fact, the Order of Spirula. Just this one dude.
For instance, they do know that it comes up in shallower waters every so often, because it turns up in albatross guts, next to all the plastic. And it is “thought to” spawn in the wintertime. I do not know who specifically thinks that. No babies have been seen. It’s pure conjecture as far as I can tell, and will continue to be cited over and over until someone sieves up a swarm of summer squidlets. They might just as well claim that the Spirula family congregates in late November for roast shrimp with plankton stuffing and screams at each other over the ethical implications of the food chain.
But the other day, a deep-diving unmanned ocean rover spotted a genuine Spirula in the squishy flesh, and the squid-science world went nuts. The squid was three inches long and shaped like a tampon with a big eyeballs on top and lime-green light shining out of its fanny. It was oriented eyeball-up and butt-down in contrast to the way scientists always “thought” it would be. Captured ram’s-horn squids tend to keel over on their sides or upside-down, but that could be the despair.
Scientists assumed they oriented themselves the other way because their pen is filled with gas for buoyancy and one would think it would be on top, but it wasn’t. This does solve the other problem of the butt light though. It makes sense for the light to point down so that predators underneath it have trouble seeing it against the water surface reflections; not that this helps any with the albatross.
So presumably with the new video of a healthy ram’s-horn squid, we have added to our knowledge, but this is science: one must be wary of leaping to conclusions, especially with a sample of one. it could be just what that squid does. What if aliens visit Earth and discover the shorelines littered with durable Carhartts and Kevlar vests, but the only human they find is Gandhi? They might conclude people keep their legs folded up and are peaceful. Boy, would they be wrong.
Thanks to Friend Of Pootie Mary Treiber for the squidly scoop.